Posts Tagged ‘formula feeding’

Thoughts on breastfeeding: the past, and the possible future.

August 23, 2010

I don’t know if we’ll have more kids naturally. I have been gung ho. A couple of months ago I was convinced it was the ‘perfect’ time to get pregnant – and now, wow am I happy I’m not. Chasing after these two with a baby cooking? Ha.

The past month has been killer. August is always a big month – lots of sad anniversaries. But it also is our anniversary, and now the birthday of Snort and Coconut. Just like life, August is good and bad.

I wonder if my ambiguity about pregnancy is why I am also lackluster about weight loss. I know I have to lose all my weight to be able to donate eggs again, and I certainly think we’d go the IVF/eggshare route again.

I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff. Breastfeeding….a lot.

How they got sunken fontanels (sp?), how they were so dehydrated, how they did not pee….except little crystals and blood. How their weight plummeted well below a loss of 15%.  How it kept dropping.   Breastfeeding was the best thing ever for me, but perhaps not for my babies. I don’t know if I would try again.

Certainly the suckling has been known to help regenerate nerves, and make breastfeeding after a reduction a possibility in second, third, fourth pregnancies. Certainly I would want to breastfeed, but it would be an act of courage as the last time it hurt me so badly when it failed.

I’m happy now. We formula fed our babies and, well, it was good. As I’ve said before, there are good things about bottle feeding – please don’t jump down my throat or criticize, because unless you have been desperate to breastfeed and medically could not, you don’t know what it’s like. I chose (finally) to forgive my body and move on. To accept things as they were, and to be grateful for how my cherished kids were developing.

The next time around I would meet with a lactation consultant before birth, to have an action plan in place. I know giving a bottle fucks with milk production in normal boobies, but with my boobies and history, I would not withhold a bottle to ‘just see,’ since my kids got pretty fucking sick from my inability to give them milk this time around.

All the buzz on Twitter lately is about milk donation. I applaud those who donate, as well as those mums who need a bit of help and have the wherewithal to get connected to resources. I don’t know that milk banks exist here, but again – I’d do some research before another baby came along, even to make some informal connections.

I think parents hold so fast, so tight, to their ideals – the way they do it is so good, feels so right, that they want to tell everyone else about it. Certainly I was like that with babywearing and baby led weaning. But sometimes that tips too far over the edge into condemnation.

The number of twitter convos I’ve had….


Them: There is no reason EVERY mother cannot breastfeed her baby.

Me: Um, actually I couldn’t breastfeed. I was medically unable to.

Them: Bullshit. The only excuse is if you have some sort of disease you might pass on or something.

Me: Well, actually not. I had a breast reduction and the surgery damaged my breasts too badly to be able to feed my children.

Them: *backtracking wildly* Oh, yeah, well, I mean that’s different. That’s medical.

Me: *sigh*

I am the sort of person who will always speak up. Hell, if I was breastfeeding I’d do it outloud, so proud, in public. I’d get a couple of those boobie beanies and tandem nurse any old place. But I think it’s ridiculous how shamed and horrible I felt about offering bottles in public.

It’s interesting how the internet has skewed my perceptions. My online connections are usually all AP (attachment parenting) people. You know, people more likely to be into natural parenting, babywearing, cosleeping, breastfeeding, anti-CIO, etc. Most cloth diaper and some are anti-vax.

These people are so accepting of me and my non-boobie milk, but only once I’ve gone through and explained why I’m not breastfeeding. It’s like being gay – I come out again and again as a formula feeder. I used to sort of keep my mouth shut, which goes against my personality. But now I can say, well, you know know? I forumla feed. Breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone. I had a surgery when I was 19; I could beat myself up about that for eternity, but what is the point?

It’s so possible to be AP when bottle feeding. Not all formula feeders are propping bottles up into the mouths of babes strapped into carseats and ignored. I held my babies every feed – despite having one of me and two of them. They cuddled into me, and still do, to eat. My respect for breastfeeding and all the benefits is deep, and I emulated them as much as possible – we only fed on demand (they choose when and how much milk to eat, we do not encourage them to have more or discourage them from eating), and now we do baby led weaning and will led them decide when is the right time to transition away from milk feeds.

We do it as naturally as possible, as gently as possible, as respectfully as possible.

If only all parents offered other parents the same treatment.

I know it’s hard. Hell, I judge people. When the babies were first born, someone I went to school with sent me a link via facebook for this feeding thing (the assumption being there would be no breastfeeding, which is NOT a good thing!). It was like a pacifier connected to a tube that dipped into a bottle. She attached a picture of her three week old infant left alone on the side of a swimming pool while she and her hubby frolicked in the water.

Yes, I judge. Yes, I am horrified.

But what is my judgment going to do to her? Nothing. Offering shame and condemnation is not helpful; education is, but only in the right circumstances. I’ve had lectures (again, via my pal twitter) about formula being poison, about bottle feeding moms not giving a damn about their kids’ health, etc. And then always, always, the backtracking when they learn about my situation. Always the embarassed, ‘Oh, I don’t judge people who can’t feed because, like, they can’t.’

Well, you do. You do judge when you presume to talk about how formula is akin to the coming of the anti-christ.

Did I love breastfeeding? Yes. Did it work for us? No. It (well, not breastfeeding, but the failure of breastfeeding) made my children sick.

I’m sorry. I don’t know how this got so long or so rambling, or what was my original point. I think somewhere in here I meant to say that if I get pregnant again, I’m going to be a lot more gentle and forgiving of myself this time around.

Unexpected joy.

July 19, 2010

My pregnancy, birth, and post-birth experiences were not what I wanted. I pictured a blissful giant bump and myself, skipping lightly through fields. I imagined an all natural vaginal birth. And I certainly anticipated carrying on breastfeeding for longer than I did.

But for all my hopes and wishes, here I am with two gorgeous babies who’ve just turned 11 months – and everything is good.

I was signed off sick from work at 19 weeks (and let’s be honest, prior to 19 weeks I was working half days or calling in sick due to the extreme vomit fest). This was the best thing that could have happened. I was given months and months of unbridled napping, eating, and resting. All my energy went towards growing my babies, and I do credit the months of rest and weight gain for going full term with two very healthy and singleton sized babies.

My birth? A planned c section, since both babies were breech. It was the best experience of my life. Our surgical and midwifery team (and the other 7000 people there) did everything possible to make us feel welcome, calm, and in control. I laughed so much during the birth. And afterwards I was able to focus on our babies while they did their business behind the curtain. Staff were there just to hold the second baby close to me while TMD held the first. My c section likely prevented me worse injury from my SPD as well.

And the breastfeeding? I loved it fiercely, but you know what? I like formula feeding. Go ahead – shoot me. I was physically unable to breastfeed (though remain hopeful that all the nursing in the first few weeks will help my nerves regenerate and I may be able to breastfeed any following babies!) and SO UPSET about switching to bottles. On reflection, I am grateful.

Bottle feeding allowed TMD to feed her children just as much as I did. Bottle feeding allowed us more rest. Bottle feeding has grown my children strong and healthy, and I no longer feel torn up inside about not breastfeeding.

Nothing turned out how I wanted it to, but now that I look back, I am happy everything happened the way it did. It has got me to this point: two little babies smiling at me, cramming wraps and apples in their mouths, playing peek-a-boo with each other almost constantly.

There are few things in life we can definitely control – particularly in regards to possible pregnancy or birth complications. But we can control our reactions to these things, and I choose gratitude. Again and again, I choose to be thankful for every step that led me to a peaceful place where I have forgiven my body for not letting me breastfeed, for breaking down under the strain of a multiple pregnancy.

How can I not?

I am blessed.

I sit here, carefully watching my children out of the corner of my eye. One on each side of a giant toy, swinging from side to side to peek at each other and boom with laughter. One running from the other who is giving gleeful chase. My lounge is cluttered with toys, my heart is crowded with love.

This is how it was supposed to happen. I was supposed to be this happy, and I am. I will not stop giving thanks for this life, for these children, for the possibility of more perfect moments that I did not plan or expect.